Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Night!

I do love Oscar Night. Yes, I am a card carrying Thespian (obtained in 198... eh... never mind). It is fully understood in our household that there will be no shuttle service, fancy meals, cleaning of cat puke or other "Mom" duties. I am off the clock!

For Valentine's Day one year my husband bought us tickets to Oscar Night America. It's an organized event that takes place in over 50 cities nationwide. The proceeds benefit local charities. Ours in Dallas benefited The USA Film Festival. It was a very chic and fun event. They telecasted the broadcast to a local dinner theater. We were given programs and posters from the real event in LA. That year's poster is my favorite because it highlights notable lines from Oscar winning movies. (While not a card carrying member of the Writer's Guild I do love a well worded script)

We had a great time that night but I do like viewing from the comfort in my home...on the couch...with perhaps a small tub of Cherries Garcia close by. Jammies are optional when you watch from home. 

I've always had this dream of winning an Oscar. I'm not sure why because I rather like the Emmy statues better. To win an Academy Award -- how awesome. You know you've pictured it yourself, admit it. How many of you have even pictured the speech and even taken it as far as the after effects. In your dreams you attend all of the parties and give interview after interview. If you're really into the dream thing you take it even further. You picture yourself on Inside the Actor's Studio. Sigh. 

In my little dream cloud there usually is a clap of thunder as there is always that Self Doubt lurking somewhere. The dream is so big that my mind actually allows me to envision being there at the ceremony. Self Doubt is crafty though. It lets me wander around my dream in my flowing pretty dress, enjoying the admiration of a nominee and even lets me win. 

What Self Doubt has not mentioned is that I didn't scuff my fancy shoes like Mom always suggested. With scuffed bottom shoes you're less likely to fall. In the chaos that is dressing for the Oscars I will have forgotten. Cue Amy crossing the well shined stage and....whoosh she goes!

If you believe in The Secret theory, what a mistake of a message I just sent out to the universe. There is always time to plan for the future and fix it. Note to future self, hire someone who'll remember shoe scuffing. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Technically, I Did Not Fall

Today's post is another bitter sweet story. It's right on topic for the whole "Falling With Grace" theme  as it is truly an "Epic Amy" story. You know, I'm not sure where the "sweet" part of the story is. The bitter part is that my brother would have told this SO much better than I could. 

My brother Kevin passed away almost 4 years ago. As well as being a gifted artist he really did have a knack for telling a story. His stories would tend to get longer, larger and perhaps less factual as they were told over and over. (Like the one about making me laugh and a half of pb&j sandwich came out my nose. It was in fact Pepsi that came out of my nose and it hurt!) He'd told the story below so many times, in so many ways, that I hardly remember the true facts of it all. 

I've never tried to put it in words before and thought it would be a great writing exercise to try. Maybe I can "channel" my brother...

My brother, sister and I met at a local deli for lunch. (Oh my...I think I can hear my brother snickering) The deli was at the back of a wine store and a very busy place at lunch. My brother had been waiting for my sister and I for quite a while. Well, 5 or 10 minutes would be too long to wait for my brother but back to the story. 

We sat at the table that was closest to the back door. Maybe that's the only one available when he got there? I do know that it was the furthest table from the drink counter. My brother waited at the table for me to go and get my drink. 

I remember it was super crowded. A young guy from the deli had pulled the top off of the fountain machine to fill it with ice. I watched him put the lid on the ground in front of the machine and then dump a tub full of ice into it's top.  

He smiled and said that I could get my drink. I filled my cup with ice and soda, turned around to walk back to the table. I must have had a nice hefty push off as my one feet slid on the ice box lid. 

"Sllliiiisssshhh"...went the lid across the floor. I was able to pull my other foot forward only to slip more on slippery ice cubes. "Slishhhhhh, scrape, sllliiisssh" came from under my feet as I tried my best to regain balance. 

I just could not untangle my feet but somehow managed a forward motion toward the other end of the deli. The horrible memory of the rise and fall groans of the crowd is unmatched by the sound of my feet trying so desperately to catch firm ground. 

"Clicketty, clank, click" went my heels as I went from one obstacle to another. Dry ground, ice, dry  ground, ice tray. I would say that my feet were moving as quickly as if I were Irish Step Dancing but how misleading that would be. There was nothing rhythmic or pretty about this. 

Perhaps the other patrons tried to help me. How could they. I must've been flaying around so. I knew of their concern by the "Ohhh" as they thought I regained the "Ughhhhh" as I would start slipping again. Up and down the groans would go. 

I was so very desperate to just make it back to that damn table. Slipping and sliding I managed to move forward with my feet still somehow tangled. (Picture ice skaters in their pretty jumps with their feet crossed, graceful like?) 

One of my feet must have caught a patch of dry lanoliuim because my body was propelled forward. My feet were still tangled though and just like a plank, I fell onto a table top. The glass slammed down as I looked up at the people sitting at the table. That poor mother and son as they looked at each other and then up at me. What a blank stare- as if they were the ones that fell! 

Amazingly-  NOT A DROP was spilled from my drink in all of the swirly slipping and eventual slam on the table top. 

There were no claps...but dead silence. There was just the sound of my heels going "click, click, click" back to the table where my brother was waiting with one of his looks. I straightened my hair and ran my hands across my suit trying to gain composure. As I sat down my brother had that look that only a big brother could give. I'm not even sure if he asked if I was ok come to think of it. 

The young deli employee did come over to say he was sorry. My sister, brother and I looked at each other. Not being known for my gracefulness I think I might have even said sorry myself. 

That was probably "Falling Artistry" at it's finest. Technically, since I did do the plank thing onto the table top, it wasn't a fall. Maybe my technique gave everyone a nice jolt of adrenaline. I do know that it gave my brother more material. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fear of Falling

This Blog entry is dear to my heart as the inspiration behind the whole concept is my 96-year-old Grandmother. My Grandmother has always been fiercely independent. Fearless and perhaps maybe a bit stubborn, she would take off at the slightest whim. A full tank of gas and a free weekend took her to the very southern tip of Texas once. 

She was a free spirit indeed until a simple fall resulted in, as for so many seniors, a broken hip. The long and painful recovery was more than frustrating for her. It altered her own perception of herself. The fear of falling shattered the free spirit that she once was. 

While physical therapy helped to strengthen her body she regained even more confidence from the occupational therapy. She learned new ways to bend and reach for things. She recovered well and was soon back living on her own. 

She has had quite a few set backs and with each one has had to regain that confidence again in taking those simple steps. 

"I'm so afraid of falling." she would say to me after stopping to catch her breath. 
"I just am afraid of what would happen." 

We have talked about this in great length. After so many "Grannie comebacks" she understands how powerful and even crippling the fear is. Her fear of falling has made her less active. The result of her inactivity has made her less mobile, in fact making her more prone to a fall. 

Like many people with older loved ones I pondered the idea of "falling well". I have read so many  interesting studies revolving around the aged and falling. I was thrilled to find that a study had been done to determine if "learning to fall well" would result in less injuries. 

The study seemed brilliant. The subjects were reasonably fit. Each would be taught balance techniques...they would work on proper gait...and then eventually learn how to effectively fall. 

(In my head I pictured senior centers with Wii Fit Boards, seniors doing yoga for balance and doing tuck and roll type maneuvers)

The result of the study however realized that the risk of injury during "practice" was greater than the benefit of learning to fall well. (Again in my head with the images of very fit seniors donning ninja style clothes and slightly discouraged by the results)

There have been enough studies that have proven the fact that fear of falling itself creates the inevitability of another fall. With each step that a senior takes without a proper gait they in fact have a posture more prone to loosing balance. 

My Grandmother today is in the middle of another "comeback" and had commented on that fear of falling again. She admits that a good deal of frustration for her is the fact that she had always been so independent. She doesn't like the feeling of being out of balance or fearful. She sees the consequence of being immobile and how it stiffens her up. 

She needs a nudge sometimes. Sometimes all she needs to hear is that she can do it. Many times something boosts her spirit so that the fear gets pushed to the side a bit. Her confidence bumps up a notch and off she goes. (The promise of a trip to Long John's or for ice cream really gets her moving!)

The human mind fascinates me and I can't seem to soak up enough about the mind's potential. 
How interesting it is to me that we all will have those very scary first steps. With each new stage of life there are so many steps and what would happen if we just stood still? 

My Grandmother reminded me today that she was with me for a very difficult first step in my life as I've been there for some of hers. Now she's planning her 97th birthday trip back home and I'm happier in life for having made that first step forward years ago. 

Don't let that fear of falling keep you from taking that first step. With one foot in front of the other you just don't know where it might lead you. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Falling Sick

I was talking with a Mom last night who was expressing frustration with having had to succumb to an illness. A few days ago she could barely lift her head she said. She explained how when her husband came down with it that she was so very careful for the virus to not spread. She washed her hands, wiped everything she could with disinfectant. She still seemed so disappointed that she had come down with the illness too. 

As she was explaining further about how far behind she was...she still didn't feel 100% but there was so much to do. And there was that nagging thought that she did everything she could to avoid it. 

That's the hardest part for me in dealing with Sjogrens. After I was diagnosed I realized that I had already been changing my lifestyle. I had already learned new ways to compensate, manage and try to push forward in every day. I still will catch myself having bouts of sheer anger after being knocked down, even after I've followed "all the rules". 

We are in fact human and we will fall ill at one point. We can do what we can to keep ourselves fit, eat well and treat our bodies right. You don't have to have a chronic illness to feel that sense of "feeling off our game" when sick. 

Why are we so hard on ourselves when we fall ill? I thought about this a while back. Maybe it goes so far back in our DNA. I'm talking way back. Like when we were really animals? It's almost like a "survival of the fittest" kind of thing maybe. We don't want to be seen as the weak one in the herd, tribe or pride. We surely don't want to be the one slowing the pack down. Then there is the fear of being left behind. 

As a Mom I can't stand the thought that I can't do the things that I used to for my family. I feel such a sense of things getting "out of control" and I feel so very far behind. Until talking to my other sickly Mom friend I didn't realize that it's all the same pressure we put on ourselves. Chronic or not- it is what it is. 

I'm lucky that my symptoms pass and I have days where I feel really pretty good. I'm grateful that I have enough good days that I know when I'm not well- it'll pass. I just have to ride with it a while, breath. The grace part is when it passes and I feel good. It's heaven. 

I know that there is a place in our lives for that urge to push forward when we're falling ill. It's a survival mechanism that's still part of our DNA for a reason I suppose. I just wish that we all can learn to just relax and ride through it without punishing ourselves too much. 

If you're reading this now and you're feeling like crap- go grab your Snuggie!
The laundry will wait, calls can be made tomorrow, your kids won't let themselves starve and everything will be just fine. Take care of yourselves. Your soul will thank you for it and feeling better for it will be such a blessing.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Falling...Into a Trap!

First, let me begin by saying that I love my little sister very much. I'm sure she had NO IDEA what she was doing when she told me to visit her little town in CityVille. CityVille is another fun game that you can play on Facebook.

The "city" that my sister created was named after my Godchild. Of course I'll go and visit the "city", right?

"How can I visit it without creating a town of my own?", I asked.

"You can't. You have to build your own city." my sister replied, coy like.

STOP! Oh, if I could only hit the rewind button and GO BACK! If I could only go back to the way life was before. I think you can see where this is Ohn Mamie Ville!

It all starts so innocently. It starts with a house. Then a few crops. Then a business that you can name what ever you want. Finally you get to visit the town that you just wanted to see to begin with. Oh, but wait. You have to shop in the with the crops...then back to your city to build more homes because you need to increase your population...then a cartoon of a nice old man tells you to build a City Hall for extra coins...And then- you get a message that your sister needs you to be on staff in HER City Hall. "Ding Dong" go the doorbells as you collect rent. "Weeeee!" scream the happy people as you send bus loads of people to your sister's fake city's pretend business.

The next decision was the blow to our family sanity as I can recall it. (Ok, we were a little nuts to begin with but just go with it) We...oh, the shame. Sigh. Truth be told, my sister and I involved the men in our lives. It sounded like a simple thing. A couple more neighbors...we could increase our populations, build more Community Centers. Hell, we could build schools for our "children".

Within a matter of hours the men were hooked. Soon the sounds of "Bling!" and "Ding Dong!" could be heard from other rooms. "Weeee!"  "Knock, knock, knock" "Chop, chop, chop" "Honk Honk, Weeee!"

My husband, the system architect had found a system by which he could time the crops, collect rent, stash goods and STILL have enough energy to visit neighbors.

In another part of the country my sister's husband was busy creating his little town, first with sarcastic sounding names. He clearly was just doing it for her. Then all of a sudden requests were coming in for this item and that item.

The four of us spent an entire night sending people to towns, building shops, making ourselves mayors and building our little cities.

It was bound to happen. A comment was made by my husband that he already had a Head Quarters built. Then my sister's husband said casually, "I'm almost at the same level as you."

I suppose you would have to know how very competitive my sister is to really understand the level of anxiety this created for her. In looking back it wasn't like the men taunted us...really. It just wasn't fair that's all. How could their cities have grown so in such a short amount of time?

My sister and I were talking on the phone while sending each other goods, energy and bus loads of happy people to our towns. It was really just a joke when we said that the pets could be our neighbors. What could the harm be?

"Bloop" and there is was. An invite from my sister's dog Zoebelle. Oh, I know, I know. Before you judge...Zoe's town is the cutest little town. So...Zoebelle needed more friends. That's when my cat joined in the fun too.

Take this as a fair warning. You must save yourself now if you haven't already. You'll have others beg you to be their neighbor. Your children will not be able to look you in the eyes without shame. It's a trap I tell you! A trap!

Ok...I'm off now to collect some rent.
P.S.- if you've already fallen under the spell of the ding dongs...will you be my neighbor?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Will Win

You's Super Bowl Day. It's been super big news here in Dallas for a year now. With the game just a couple of hours away, no doubt both teams are feeling that pressure to WIN. I just imagine the pressure cooker type of anxiety the players and staff must be feeling. SO many people watching...statisticians watching every move...plays will be made by inches, stretches and just sheer luck. 

If you fall at the Super Bowl- the whole world watches. Miss a play and it's replayed over and over. On the other hand there are those moments that will be awe inspiring. 

I hope it's a good game. Both teams have worked hard to be here. I wish that we could've given the teams and the fans one of our beautiful warm days. I suppose it's not football weather for a Packers of Steelers fans unless they can see their breath from the cold.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day Part IV is the 4th day in a row that the kids have been out of school here in Dallas. The first few "Snow Days" were for ice really. Then last night the prediction was for a "light dusting" of snow. Schools in the area closed for another day. We woke up this morning with 6 inches of snow. 

It was a beautiful sight though. For people who had to drive in it...not so much. The problem with the snow is that it disguised the 2 inches of ice underneath. So many people HAD to make it in to the office today and it was probably the worst of all 4 days. 

All week long there were news pieces of people making their way through the treacherous ice. For days I've thought of my blog because some made slipping on ice look so graceful. Some women in heals even! Her slip wasn't a "herky jerky" kind of slip but a "swishful" type of slip. Nice. I've never had a graceful swagger on dry land to there's an admiration for people who can make it look cool.  

Then there were videos of people lending a hand. Poor guys just lending a hand...a car the car a shove and then WHAM! The guy falls flat on the ice. That's just mean Karma. 
There was a news crew shooting video of a trooper pushing a car. Not only did the officer fall but the camera man fell too. I'm not sure if it was giggling I heard in the background or whimpering from having to shoot in 6 degree weather for days. 

Now there are now stories about ice slipping off of the roof of Cowboy Stadium and seriously injuring people below. The poor person was interviewed and still doesn't know what hit him. Can you imagine being smacked from above like that? He was probably concentrating on NOT SLIPPING when the heavens clobbered him from above. 

We are not equipped for weather like this in Dallas. They can make fun of us in Sports Illustrated all they want. This weather is not normal, in fact most other years my tulips would  have sprung out of the ground by now. 

I'm glad I've stayed put. While I've had some bouts of cabin fever I do not wish to fall on my butt. If it can be avoided, I avoid. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Falling For Fun

I have to admit...I love to watch my niece at her preschool. They have one of those camera feeds and I keep tabs on her while her Mom is at work. The picture refreshes every 20 seconds and WOW...the stuff that can happen in 20 seconds. 

I was just taking a break from my morning to check in on her. The kiddos are waiting for lunch. My niece's long time BFF is a character. The kids were all sitting in their chairs waiting for "Lunch Lady"  to bring the lunch trays down the hall. Niece's BFF was "falling" out of her chair. Not just the ol' "whoopsie, I fell out of my chair" fall...a very big "Whoa...I'm falllliiiiinnnng" kind of fall. This was making the whole class laugh, put their hands over their mouths in comical shock and making others uncomfortable. (No doubt a "whale" will be lost on the Good Behavior Chart)

This went on for a bit. I was actually relieved that my niece didn't join in the fun. She's a follower. 

This was so much fun and I thought it was a good subject for the Blog. "Whoa, heh heh heh" is one of my niece's favorite phrases. This is chanted while doing "flee-ups" off of the couch, playing "horsie" on Momma, while "Swiffering" the floor and just about anything that can make "Ohn Mamie" shriek with fear. 

Falling is fun for these kids. Not only that but they've learned to do it well too. I say that with just a tinge of jealousy? (I so wish I had a centered balance to my body and just a fraction of their energy) 

After a visit with my sister's family I've found that the whole family will do my niece's favorite chant..."Whoa, heh heh heh" is said for mishaps, loss of balance and dropping things. We can't help's so contagious. 

Try to find your "Whoa, heh heh heh" moments in your day. It's really just a moment and it'll pass so quickly. Don't be afraid of who has seen you...forget about how big a bruise you'll have tomorrow. Just "Whoa" it away and laugh. It's ok and it's fun.